Entire NBA joins Wolves in embracing SportVu technology

The world of professional basketball analysis just became a lot wider.

The NBA announced Thursday a partnership with Stats LLC to provide every team in the league with  high-tech, innovative cameras and software that track the ball and each player on the floor and provide advanced statistical data to which the game never previously had access. Half of the NBA’s 30 teams, including the Timberwolves, used the system — dubbed SportVU — last season and lauded its benefits to their own franchises and the access it provides to information about other teams that use it.

Now, every scout, general manager, coach, player and fan will get a look at the insights the setup’s six cameras and STATS software provide.

“We are a league driven by data, and our expanded partnership with STATS provides our teams and fans with access to uncover groundbreaking statistics,” said Steve Hellmuth, NBA executive vice president of operations and technology, in a statement on the NBA’s website. “In this new era of statistical information, SportVU will be an invaluable resource for basketball executives and our passionate fans.”

No arguments from the Minnesota, which last season gave FOXSportsNorth.com an inside look at SportVU and its seemingly infinite web of output. The Timberwolves have utilized the system since the 2011-12 campaign.

Teams that paid the approximate $100,000 price tag have been able to excavate three statistical categories: visual (dribbles, passes, touches, etc.), contextual (numbers like secondary or “hockey” assists and rebounding chances) and physical (speed, reaction time, closeout speed). The cameras capture 25 player-tracking images per second, then crank out a boatload of raw data which STATS workers pour over and generate custom, detailed reports.

It provides more intimate looks into individual and team performance — points per touch, whether a rebound was contested or not, potential assists, a player’s best shooting spot(s) on the floor, offensive and defensive schemes and their effectiveness, to name a few — while providing trainers and coaches with more info on how those in their charge are holding up — how far a player has run during a game, when a player begins to become fatigued, etc.

Every team with the system last year could use it to analyze its’ SportVu-employing counterparts, causing coaches to clamor for more teams to jump on the bandwagon. Call it the new-age way of exchanging film.

Thursday, those on the cutting edge of basketball statistic-keeping got their wish.

Fans and media will have access to the new numbers, too, as player-tracking data will be used on NBA.com, NBA TV and in the NBA Game Time app. Television networks are expected to vie for access, too, in order to enhance their game coverage and on-air analysis.

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